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Publishers WeeklyBrown's wide-ranging essay collection about women's relationships with food is more than the sum of its parts, making an effective cross-section of modern Western attitudes toward eating. Those essays regarding eating disorders, such as anorexic Caroline Leavitt's moving account of the criticism and verbal jabs leveled at her by her fiancée and his family, are thoughtful and well-written, but suffer from a plodding sameness; a few border on melodrama. Essays from a ballerina and a model may confirm some stereotypes, but Ann Hood's account of the Draconian measures that ensure flight attendants conform to a body ideal is sure to inspire simmering outrage. The real gems come in frank, often comical accounts of growing up with unorthodox food practices: Kathi Kamen Goldmark's story of her health-obsessed parents, and the culinary chaos that ensued when Kathi was left on her own in the real world, is enlightening and entertaining. Conversely, Rochelle Jewel Shapiro details her family's more troubling obsession with eating as quickly as possible, inspired by her father's brutal experience under the threat of Cossacks. This hit-and-miss collection, taken as a whole, has a comforting, important message for anyone with food issues: you're not alone.
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